108th Motor Rifle Division
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|108th Motor Rifle Division|
|Engagements||Second World War
Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
The 108th Nevelskaya Twice Red Banner Motor Rifle Division (108 MRD) was a military formation of the Soviet Ground Forces. The predecessor to the 108th MRD was the 360th Rifle Division Nevelskaya Order of the Red Banner, which was formed during the Second World War. Its formation, on 1 September 1941, was the result of a decree of the State Defence Committee on 13 August 1941 and an order from the Volga Military District Commander, Lt. Gen. VF Gerasimenko, on 14 August 1941. The division was formed in the Volga Military District, possibly at Chkalov. By 1 December 1941 the division had become part of 60th Army. On 1 April 1942 the division was part of the 4th Shock Army, Kalinin Front. Up until August 1943 the division was operating with both the 3rd and 4th Shock Armies. On 1 December 1944 the division was part of 83rd Rifle Corps, 4th Shock Army, 1st Baltic Front.
From then until October 1945 the division was posted on the Leningrad Front and the Baltic Military District. In October, the division was relocated by railway to the Turkestan Military District in the city of Termez. Arriving there at the start of November 1945, the whole division was housed in military camps for combat and political training until the end of the year. In November and December, new units were created.[vague] Between World War II and December 1979 the division provided security for the Soviet Union along its southern borders.
 Combat History of the Division in Afghanistan
In December 1979, during the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan, the division was part of the invasion force. On 10 December 1979, on the orders of the General Staff, the division was put on a state of high alert, together with motorized infantry and tank regiments, and on 13 December 1979 the whole division was brought to full combat preparedness. On 24 December, the Minister of Defense signed a directive for the entry of Soviet troops in Afghanistan. The directive ordered the border crossed at 15.00 hours on 25 December 1979. The 781st Independent Reconnaissance Battalion became the first unit of the Soviet Army to cross into Afghanistan. At the same time, military transport planes carrying the 103rd Guards Airborne Division also crossed the border, with orders to land at Kabul Airfield. On 27 December advanced units of 108 MRD entered Kabul with the objective of strengthening the protection of military administrative buildings. On the night of 27 December, the 5th MRD entered Afghanistan from the direction of Herat. By mid-January 1980 the entry of the main forces of the 40th Army into Afghanistan was largely complete.
From 1980 to 1989 the division carried out tasks to ensure the safety of convoys along the Doshi-Kabul and Kabul-Jalalabad routes, and the protection of key facilities (grain elevators, fuel and lubricant supply depots, a power station in Kabul, a dam and hydroelectric power station site in Surubi, Bagram airfield, etc.) The division's operations in Afghanistan can be divided into stages:
- December 1979 - February 1980. Entry into Afghanistan and establishment of bases;
- March 1980 - April 1985. Participation in active hostilities including large-scale operations, work to strengthen the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA).
- April 1985 - January 1987. Transition from active operations to a role supporting Afghan troops using artillery and demolition units. Assisting in the development of the armed forces of the DRA, and participation in the partial withdrawal of Soviet troops.
- January 1987 - February 1989. Assisting the Afghan leadership in carrying out the policy of national reconciliation, continuing support of Afghan forces, training of units and divisions to complete withdrawal from DRA.
The stages of the war in Afghanistan were not uniform and differed in terms of the intensity and types of military activities. Thus, the third and fourth stages were characterised by increased concentrations of rebel forces, and the creation of numerous military bases across Afghanistan with more active hostilities.
In terms of numbers of personnel, the 108th MRD was the largest division in the Soviet Armed Forces in that period. It was the only one of its kind in the Armed Forces because of its structure, and the quality and quantity of its weapons and other military equipment.
On February 11, 1989, the Division acted as rearguard for the 40th Army as it was withdrawn from Afghanistan. The division was then based in Termez.
One of the division's regiments was the 1415th Anti-Aircraft Rocket Regiment (ru:1415-й_зенитный_ракетный_полк).
- tashv.nm.ru, Combat composition of the Soviet Army, 1 September 1941, accessed October 2011
- tashv.nm.ru, BSSA 1 December 1941
- tashv.nm.ru, BSSA 1 April 1942
 Further reading
- Feskov, V.I.; K.A. Kalashnikov, V.I. Golikov. (2004). The Soviet Army in the Years of the 'Cold War' (1945-1991). Tomsk: Tomsk University Press. ISBN 5-7511-1819-7.